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Culinary Quests: Delving Into Culture Through Food Markets

This open market with its wonderful scents and beautiful array of fruits and vegetables invites one to visit in person.

Some of my most memorable travel experiences involve food. Food is a complex expression of culture, history, and identity and it connects us in so many ways. One of my favorite ways to get immersed in a destination is to explore the food markets. Not only do you get a glimpse of local life, but you also support local vendors, farmers, and artisans. Visiting food markets will make your journey more memorable and meaningful. These are a couple of my favorite markets:

Nothing is more authentically Catalan than La Boqueria located off Las Ramblas in Barcelona. Dating back to 1217, it is one of Europe's oldest markets. It can be touristy, but it is also where locals shop and it is filled with the highest quality produce and authentic Spanish products. I like to go in the morning before it gets too busy. Have fresh fruit juice while you wander through food stalls sampling along the way. Wait for a seat to open up at any of the busy bars or restaurants in the market to taste among the city's best tapas.

Zanzibar’s unique blend of African, Arab, Indian, and European influences is so alluring. The Darajani market in Stone Town epitomizes all that is Zanzibar. It is an exotic and chaotic place and there is something so captivating about the vibrant pyramids of spices at this market. I enjoy wandering through markets on my own, but this is one place where you can benefit from a guide or tour. A guide will help you get to know the vendors and gain an understanding of the food, culture, and how some of their favorite foods are prepared.

I have a few markets on my list to visit: the Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, Misir Çarşisi Market in Istanbul, and Mindil Beach Sunset Market in Darwin. What are some of your favorite markets? I always love to talk about travel, so feel free to email me at

By Tanya Gilbert

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